In the world of darts, a game loved by many for its precision and skill, one may wonder why it starts with a specific score of 501. As players step up to the oche and aim for the treble twenty, the number 501 holds a special significance. This blog aims to delve into the origins and reasons behind the choice of 501 as the starting score in darts. 

From its historical roots to the strategy and excitement it brings to the game, we will explore the intriguing aspects of why darts begins with 501. Join us as we unravel the secrets behind this iconic starting score and uncover the reasons behind its enduring popularity.

Origins of the 501 Starting Score

The origins of the 501 starting score in darts can be traced back to the early days of the game. In the late 19th century, darts began to evolve into a popular pub game, played by individuals aiming to score points by throwing their darts at a target. Initially, players used smaller targets with different point values. However, as the game became more standardized, the choice was made to use a larger target known as the dartboard, which featured numbered sections.

The decision to start the game with a score of 501 was likely influenced by the desire to create a challenging and strategic gameplay experience. With 501 points, players have to carefully consider their throwing strategy to reach zero and finish the game. This starting score allows for a balance between skill and strategy, requiring players to aim for high-scoring areas while also planning their moves to ensure they reach zero within the fewest number of turns.

The choice of 501 as the starting score also adds an element of excitement and suspense to the game. As players aim to decrease their score with each turn, the pressure builds, and every throw becomes crucial. This creates a captivating atmosphere for both players and spectators, enhancing the drama and competitiveness of the game.

Over time, the 501 starting score has become deeply ingrained in the tradition and rules of darts. It is now widely recognized and accepted as the standard starting point for various formats and competitions in the world of darts. From casual pub games to professional tournaments, the 501 starting score continues to be a fundamental aspect of the game, captivating players and fans alike with its rich history and strategic challenges.

Gameplay and Strategy

In the game of darts, starting with a score of 501 requires players to carefully strategize their throws and make calculated decisions to reach zero. The gameplay revolves around reducing the initial score to exactly zero by subtracting the points scored with each throw.

Players aim to score points by throwing their darts at the numbered sections of the dartboard. Each section has a different point value assigned to it, ranging from 1 to 20. Additionally, there are specific sections like the double and triple rings, which multiply the score of that section by two or three, respectively. The outer bullseye is worth 25 points, while the inner bullseye, also known as the “bull,” is worth 50 points.

To reach zero from 501, players must strategically plan their throws to maximize their scores while also leaving themselves with a double, which is required to finish the game. This adds an additional layer of challenge and strategy to the game. For example, if a player’s remaining score is 32, they would typically aim for a double 16 to achieve a perfect finish.

The 501 starting score encourages players to strategize their throws, aim for high-scoring sections, and carefully consider their options. They must balance their desire to score points with the need to set up a favorable position for their next turn. This requires precision, accuracy, and mental agility.

Furthermore, players must be mindful of their opponents’ scores and adjust their strategy accordingly. In a competitive match, players can employ different tactics, such as trying to leave their opponent on an awkward score or capitalizing on their opponent’s mistakes.

Overall, the gameplay and strategy in a 501 darts match revolve around maximizing scores, setting up favorable finishes, and adapting to the changing dynamics of the game. It combines skill, precision, and strategic thinking to create an engaging and exciting experience for both players and spectators.

Fairness and Competitive Balance

The use of a starting score of 501 in darts is intended to promote fairness and maintain a competitive balance in the game. By starting with the same score, all players have an equal opportunity to showcase their skills and compete on an even playing field.

This starting score ensures that players have enough points to strategize and aim for high-scoring sections, while also adding an element of challenge in reaching the elusive double to finish the game. It requires players to carefully manage their scores, make strategic decisions, and exhibit precision in their throws.

Moreover, the 501 starting score allows for exciting comebacks and thrilling turnarounds during a match. Even if a player falls behind in points, the ample number of remaining points provides opportunities for dramatic comebacks and last-minute victories. This adds to the suspense and excitement of the game, keeping players and spectators engaged until the final dart is thrown.

The use of 501 as the starting score also aligns with the traditional format of darts competitions and maintains consistency across different tournaments and events. It has become the standard scoring system in many professional darts organizations and is widely recognized and accepted by players and fans alike.

Overall, the choice of a 501 starting score in darts ensures fairness, encourages strategic gameplay, and enhances the competitive balance of the game. It contributes to the excitement and unpredictability of darts matches, making it a thrilling and captivating sport for both participants and spectators.

Historical Significance and Evolution of the 501 Starting Score

The use of a starting score of 501 in darts has a long-standing historical significance. It can be traced back to the origins of the game, where players would start with a certain number of points and aim to reach zero by subtracting their scores with each throw. Over time, the scoring system evolved, and the starting score of 501 emerged as a widely adopted standard.

This scoring format gained popularity due to its simplicity and balance. It provides a substantial number of points for players to work with, allowing for strategic decision-making and a variety of possible checkouts. The 501 starting score also provides a level of challenge, as players must finish their game by hitting a double segment to win. This requirement adds an extra layer of skill and precision to the game.

In addition to its historical significance, the 501 starting score has evolved alongside the growth of professional darts. It has become the standard in major tournaments and leagues worldwide, including the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and the British Darts Organisation (BDO). This consistency in scoring format ensures uniformity and fairness across different competitions, enabling players to showcase their skills under the same set of rules.

Furthermore, the popularity and accessibility of darts have been greatly enhanced by the 501 starting score. It provides a straightforward and easily understandable format for both casual players and serious enthusiasts, making the game more enjoyable and inclusive for players of all levels. The 501 starting score has played a significant role in making darts a widely recognized and appreciated sport around the globe.


In conclusion, the use of a starting score of 501 in darts is rooted in history and has evolved to become the standard scoring system in the sport. It offers fairness, strategic depth, and an exciting challenge for players. Whether played casually among friends or in professional tournaments, the 501 starting score is an integral part of the darts experience, contributing to the game’s enduring popularity and widespread appeal.